Live at Ghostfest 2011 on Sunday, 26th June 2011
The Ocean Between Us have a tough job in opening up the 2nd day of Ghostfest, but rise to the occasion in spectacular style. Kick-starting their set with 'Nice One Kid, You Just Brought A Knife To A Gunfight' gets the front row hollering the refrain back to them, and the inclusion of new material doesn't slow the pace in the least bit, instead giving the faithful a chance to catch their breath, and reel in anyone who happens to be standing nearby.
Crossbreaker's fusion of old-school hardcore with a modern delivery sees them make plenty of new friends today. The band aren't lacking in aggression, and tear through their set with real conviction. Their set passes in a blur of sweat, and it's over all too soon; Crossbreaker today stripped hardcore right down to its bones, and in doing so proved themselves to be quite the live spectacle; certainly ones to watch for the future.
Over on the main stage, Silent Screams are entertaining the crowd with their progressive metalcore. Technical without being dull, their music is heavy enough for those who come to mosh, yet clever enough to watch and enjoy from afar. The band are bursting with energy, and their unrelenting riffs stir up the audience into a dancing mood, no mean feat considering they're only the second band on the stage today. A resounding victory for the Coventry mob, as they prove that there's more to metalcore than mere brutality.
Polar don't have many followers here today, so they just have to settle for converting the entire room to their cause with a half hour of blistering, white-hot hardcore. The Surrey mob set the bar higher and higher with every song, and by the end of their set you begin to wonder why a band of their calibre are only half-way up the bill on a day like this. Some bands would see the lack of support as a hindrance, but Polar merely capitalise on the situation, with frontman Adam Woodford spending the whole set in the crowd, screaming in the faces of the audience in a bid to get some movement stirred up to the likes of the wonderfully named 'Tonight Matthew, I Am The Batman'. It works, and they round out their set with a circle pit, a reassuring sign that true quality needs no gimmicks to make its presence known. Truly one of the best sets of the weekend.
Basement's brand of hardcore is far more melodic than anything this stage has seen today, but it goes down a charm with the crowd on the Honour Over Glory-sponsored second stage. The band's set isn't particularly fast-paced, but their melodic punch makes them an invigorating prospect, and the band sound on top form today. They don't place a foot wrong during their time onstage, and walk offstage to a rapturous reaction, showing that you'll need more than mere heaviness to succeed on a day like this.
Although on record, Evita's epic post-hardcore anthems sound powerful to the limit of the word, live the band don't really connect in the same way. The heavy bits are heavy, the soft bits are soft, but today the band don't really manage to make the two halves to their sound gel in the way that they should, which gives them an almost frail sound. It's by no means a dreadful performance, and existing fans lap it up, but in order to continue to climb the rungs of the rock ladder, the band need to work on making their sound mesh, because, you sense that this band's potential far outstrips their performance tonight, and it would be a shame to cap it here.
Heart In Hand have recently been gaining a fair bit of media coverage on the back of the release of their debut album 'Only Memories', and they justify this today in no uncertain terms. Their brand of hardcore is wonderfully melodic, but the band haven't compromised on the heavier side of things, and they go down a storm with the crowd. Frontman Charlie Holmes flings himself around the room like a hyperactive monkey with tattoo sleeves, and the band's onstage (or offstage, as the case may be) energy send the room wild. Heart In Hand needed prove that their positive exposure was well justified today, and you'd have to be both blind and deaf to deny that they cleared the bar already set high for them by the media.
TRC may sing of haters, but today they're shown a serious amount of love by the Ghostfest crowd. Opening up with the aforementioned 'H.A.T.E.R.S' ensures that they hit the ground at full pelt, and the London crew go from strength to strength this afternoon. The band's honest approach to hardcore is probably the most refreshing thing you'll hear all weekend, and the sheer bluntness of their lyrics means that no heart is lost through clever metaphors. Finishing with 'London's Greatest Love Story' means that they leave as heroes, but truthfully, they'd secured this position long before their last song. Elitists will always overlook TRC because they don't conform to hardcore standards, but if more people listened rather than looked, TRC would already have found the success that they so deserve. TRC's path is not the easiest for the band to follow, but they're now reaping the benefits of doing things their own way, and it's hard to think of a band who are more deserving than them.
Next up are melodic south-coast mob More Than Life, who burst out of the gates to the sounds of Morrissey's 'Angel, Angel, Down We Go Together', gathering speed at an alarming rate. 'Take My Life Away' is a hectic blast of blistering hardcore, and slower burners such as 'Never Ender' don't slow the pace of the gig in the least. The band sound on fine form today, and a fiery 'Faceless Name' sees them end their set on an almighty high. The crowd love More Than Life, and on a day like this, it's not hard to see why; passionate and energetic, they proved themselves to be a quality live prospect; not every band could resurrect their set after a band member storms offstage, but More Than Life make the whole thing look easy, but crucially, not effortless.
Bleed From Within's meteoric rise up the metal ranks has seen them gain fans and praise like there's no tomorrow, to the extent that they're the penultimate band on the Monster stage today. The band show no sign of nerves at this prospect however, and instead unleash a vicious deathcore battering upon the packed room, with songs like 'The Novelist' going down an absolute storm with those assembled. A huge pit is opened up in no time, and the Glaswegian bruisers continue to maul the crowd with their unrelenting heaviness. Scott Kennedy's brutal screams could strip paint from a wall tonight, and the band are nothing short of superb, cementing their position as one of the best rising British bands out there in magnificent style.
It's down to Deez Nuts to see things come to a suitable close over on the Honour Over Glory stage, and there's no better band to provide a soundtrack to a good time than the JJ Peters' band. Striding onstage with all the confidence in the world, they tear straight into 'Like There's No Tomorrow' and bring the room to its knees with their infectious rapcore racket, sending bodies tumbling over the barrier throughout the course of their set. Dropping gems like 'Sex Sells' or 'Your Mother Should Have Swallowed You' is always likely to send punters ballistic, and there's a real party atmosphere to be found in the packed room tonight. JJ is a top-quality entertainer, and you'd be hard pushed to find another frontman at the festival who can enthral the crowd in such a good natured way. 'I Hustle Everyday' closes their set in manic fashion, and draws things to a sweaty and satisfying climax. Cries for an encore fall upon deaf ears, but Deez Nuts need no such thing to endear themselves on a day like this; if you missed out, then too bad, but Deez Nuts played one hell of a set on this tiny second stage, and put on the best hardcore party imaginable.
So, how do the headliners over on the Monster Energy stage fare in comparison? Well, if the first half of Suicide Silence's set was anything like the second, then you'd almost be forgiven for skipping Deez Nuts. 'Bludgeoned To Death' sees the crowd go several shades of mental and 'No Pity For A Coward' has them screaming along to its refrain en masse, while the band unleash havoc onstage; it's a shame that people will continue to lump Suicide Silence in with the countless other 'core clones, because no other band in their field can come close to replicating them live. Intensity plays a large part in this, but it's hardly like they're the only band around to put on visceral performances; instead, there are far more subtle elements to Suicide Silence live than they are given credit for on record, and it's here that these make the most difference. Those down the front seem totally captivated by the band, and there's way more variety in the fans than the elitists would have you know. They may never escape the 'scene' tag, but anyone who has seen them live will have witnessed enough proof to shake that belief once and for all. An encore of 'No Time To Bleed' drops the curtain on another year of Ghostfest, bringing things to a suitably heavy close. Many thanks to all who were involved and made the weekend so special; by the standards of this year, next year's Ghostfest should too be something special, and I can only hope that I'm there to verify it.
The Ocean Between Us is a post-hardcore five-piece based in Leeds, England.